Disclaimer: If you didn't read it the first thirteen times why read it now?
A/N: Thanks to Sorcerer's Muse who permitted the use of her wonderful idea of magisexaudio. I sincerely recommend her work, Harry Potter and the Heir of Morgaine le Faye.
I am still looking for a beta so should anyone want to volunteer, please do.
The Trial of the Hill
I am not a human being; I walk in eternity
The Fourth Doctor
Dumbledore appeared silently upon the well worn pathway, the air, though cool was a welcome respite from the cutting chill of the Scottish winds. Five cracks sounded as the rest of the party appeared behind him, tightly grouped and waiting with their wands drawn. Clear, bleak, daylight shone down around them, piercing the leafless branches. Mud, moss, tree and stone were all that could be seen, to their left there was the sound of running water. No birds stirred, no twigs cracked, no animals walked.
Dumbledore held up his hand, the cracked, black, stone of the ring pulsing softly with a faint light, turning in a circle he set off, down the side of the hill towards the sound of the water and as he walked the light grew stronger, the pulsing becoming a steady glow, a deep, vibrant, red. Scrambling down the hillside the others came after him, prying briars away from their robes rather than risking magic which might have given away their position. Molly led the rest of the party, moving faster than her stout frame would have suggested, her wand held ready to slash at a moment's notice. Diggle came last, wheezing slightly as he scrambled down over stones and through ferns, out of them all Shacklebolt seemed most at ease, moving with the casual grace born of long experience. At last they reached the bottom of the gorge, tannin filled water flowed by, reflecting the ghostly green of the moss from the rocks, lending the place an unearthly feel.
Dumbledore paused as if uncertain over how to precede, and then with a grim confidence he began to pick his way over the slippery rocks, continuing on downstream, clinging to roots which dangled over the increasingly sheer rock face in order to bypass the growing number of waterfalls. The others followed, the feeling of dread and anticipation growing in their bellies. Somehow without the familiar touches of humanity the world had become a much more threatening place. As they were edging round a pool Diggle slipped, grabbed widely, and caught a bramble which as he fell ripped open his skin, tiny droplets of blood dripping over the plant. His murmur of 'Oh fudge' and the soft splash as he fell into the water sent even Shacklebolt spinning on his heel, wand drawn and ready for the worst. The sight of the tiny man, his vermilion robes pooling out around him as he sat chest deep in the freezing water somehow broke the tension though and as with a light laugh he scrambled out and cast a quick drying charm upon himself the others relaxed.
The going was easier then, mentally at least, the rocks were still slippery, the spray cold and the path narrow, but some of the tension was gone. At last Dumbledore paused, the edges of his deep purple robes fluttering in the breeze. Before them the way down the gorge became impassable, but just at the very edge, set a few feet above the water were a set of steps roughly hewn from the rock of the cliff which led up towards a narrow crack in the rock. Quickly walking up the steps Dumbledore teased aside the leafless briars and roots which crisscrossed the opening, 'William, would you care to give me your professional opinion?' He asked, stepping aside to leave the entrance clear for the cursebreaker.
Reaching the split in the rock Bill drew out a pair of plain spectacles and placing them on his nose began to tap his wand against the rock face, carefully spacing each tap, the tip of his wand glowing faintly as he did so. Then, edging backwards down the steps he drew a quartered circle in the air, leaving deep red flames trailing from his wand. The fire blossomed for a second, leaving an after image in the watcher's eyes, and then guttered into nothing. They waited unsure as to whether whatever Bill had attempted had been successful or not. The seconds ticked by, Shacklebolt coughed awkwardly and Tonks closed her eyes, obviously focusing as a thin layer of fur sprouted over her to keep back the cold.
'Bill dear,' began Molly, but her eldest child held up his hand for silence and shocked by the reaction she complied. A grin spread over Bill's face and the others strained their eyes to see what had so pleased him, though it was a few moments before with a gasp Tonks saw it. A fine tracery of lines was spreading over the rock, lit by a pale light which slowly grew in intensity. Rune after rune, etched in the weathered rock, came to life. Bill peered at them intently, his mouth moving silently as he followed the repeating patterns, working out from nodal points where seven lines of liquid silver intermeshed to form greater runes, shimmering golden against the argent companions which fed one another linking the tracery of power together.
'Beautiful, absolutely beautiful,' he murmured, obviously enraptured by whatever the runes were telling him. He half reached out a hand as if to stroke the rock before he noticed the others watching him. He blushed and licked his lips slowly, 'This is a touch more complex than I expected, and from what I can tell,' he pointed to the edges of the illuminated section of rock where the lines faded out, 'this is only part of it. I haven't got a clue how far this goes on for, though given the lay out and the interlocking wards here I'd guess that it probably stretches both under and over this entire hill. What's more these have some serious power behind it, whatever happens we don't want a runic cascade here, the overflow would probably flatten both Cornwall and Devon at the very least. These are blood wards, these a lot of blood, powerful blood behind them.'
The others paled at the mention of blood magic, 'Er … no chance of getting through then?' Diggle's high voice broke in.
'What? Oh no, we'd need the blood of who ever is powering these, or anyone else keyed into the wards. This stuff is fresh too, if it were a couple of thousand years old we'd probably be able to hack our way in eventually, but not with these ones. I don't think whoever built this even gave themselves a back-door. But,' he paused dramatically, 'the thing is these are inverted,' he pointed to one of the greater runes, 'this one here? It's the magic rune tirnor, according to legend one of the runes given by a figure known as the One-Eyed Wanderer to wizards, it stands for unleashing and aging The thing is, its reversed so it's forcing a negative version of the magic inwards. Whoever built this place didn't build a fortress, they built a prison, a prison for eternity. Now normally we wouldn't have a chance, however,' he pulled a few rocks out of his pocket and winked, 'the goblins have developed pretty similar wards to this which they have around some of their vaults, you know the sort, you get sucked in, but you don't get out. Sometimes Gringott's branches have been lost and so cursebreakers have to go in to rescue what's been left behind. This ward in particular has a weakness, namely that it's fuc …'
'William Weasley,' growled Molly warningly.
Bill paled, 'Erm, I mean it is quite a big old ward,' he finished lamely, 'which is to say that these little babies, jammers as we call them in the trade, can hold open a little door for us if we set them up before we go in, just a tiny crack, but in a ward this big, that's big enough for us. The ward is too old to be protected from them. Only thing is they won't last long and we'll need to stay near them to keep them powered up, even so they'll burn through if we don't get out soon …'
'How soon?' Asked Shacklebolt, his deep voice booming through Bill's long-winded explanation.
Bill's face screwed up as he tried to calculate it, 'Probably about quarter of an hour, twenty minutes tops, maybe a bit longer if we take out the power source.'
'The plan is this then,' announced Dumbledore, entering the conversation, ' Bill and Diggle you will keep the stones powered, Molly, Shacklebolt, they will be vulnerable so you will guard them. Tonks, you will report back to Doge so that in case we fail they will know what to do and you may help Molly and Shacklebolt. I will go and find Harry, if the jammers are about to run out, you know what to do.' Then, without giving them time to reply or argue he ducked through the crack in the rock and was gone.
The others hesitated for a a second and then screwing their courage to the sticking point they followed the old wizard into the hill.
Harry could feel it. The magic was literally humming, it pulsed through the chains rooting itself in his body, or maybe it was the other way around, he couldn't tell. Something had changed that much was obvious. It was as if a room which had been lit by only a single flickering candle was suddenly awash with sunlight, an empty theatre suddenly reborn as the first strains of the orchestra lifted up through the dusty rows.
His blood, at least that part of it which ran through the design upon the floor was glowing, releasing a light not dissimilar to the sound of phoenix song (if sound and sight could be compared). For one reason or another something, or someone had come to the hill, and the magic of the place knew them as it knew him.
Harry slowed his breathing, his breath misting on the air. Hoarfrost gathered at the corners of his mouth, sparklingly over his skin and creeping the chains, highlighting the runes in ice. There was a chance that this change might herald a chance for escape and he would be damned if he were not to give it his all. The air grew dry and cold enough to burn in the lungs as he leached magic from the air, compressing it into his being. The light from the blood grew brighter as it froze, even the droplets dangling on his fingertips crystallizing into ruby tears as they fell.
The Pale Man straightened up from his seat behind the granite throne where the boy sat, hunched in upon himself. He grinned wolfishly, running his tongue over the tips of his teeth. Flicking the coin he was holding one last time he caught it, glanced at its upturned face for a second and slid it into his pocket.
Drawing a long, pale aspen wand from his sleeve from his sleeve and swished it casually over the nearby stalagmites. Stone ran like water reforming into a shape more suitable for his purpose, stone muscles grinding as he animated them.
'Go, greet our guests welcome, though leave their leader be.'
Dumbledore strode down the passage as it dipped into the hill, hurrying onwards. The stone glowed a brilliant flaming scarlet in his hand. The smell was nausiating, thick and filled with the scent of mould and stale water. Around him the walls glistened in the light cast by silvery veins of some glowing substance. He stroked the elder wand softly a gentle, repetitive motion to steady his nerves, as he toyed with the idea of drawing his original ebony and phoenix feather companion, if Professor Morgan was right it might be for the best, he had little idea as to how the wand might react to its original owner.
Quietly humming a Christmas carol he continued, his eyes roaming from side to side, keeping an eye out for any danger.
It was too easy, all his senses told him so. One of the fundamental, unwritten laws of magic was that for success, or at least success with any far reaching consequences, the more one struggled the greater the rewards. It was one of the reasons that some of the branches of greater magic were not taught on the curriculum, not because the students would not be able to learn, but because the results would be pitiful in comparison to if the magic had been obtained the proper way. Say for instance a wizard desired to master the art of occlumancy, not simply learn it from a teacher, but truly master it. It was not enough to be taught, one had to need it, to put all your soul into achieving it, there had to be risk. That was effectively what had made Severus so proficient. He had certainly been skilled before he became a spy, but not so proficient that Dumbledore had not been able to pierce his defences, and Voldemort's legilimancy far exceeded his own. The necessity, his personal motivation and the struggle to maintain the façade before even such a master as Voldemort had transformed his powers. In all probability there was no greater master of occlumancy in Western Europe. It had been why Dumbledore had originally intended that Harry should learn from Severus, not because he believed Severus would prove a more able teacher than himself, but rather because there was a chance, albeit a small chance, that the antagonism between the two might have partially counterbalanced the taught nature of the magic. The same was true of animagi, wandless magic, among many other types of sorcery, and most importantly at this moment even achieving your aims in the magical world.
Dumbledore paused in his thoughts, before him lay a cavern as high as a cathedral, easily three hundred feet in length and perhaps as wide. Magic permeated the very air, it hit him like a roaring wind, power such as he had never felt in any place before rocked through him. Had it not been for the fact that if anything it seemed to empower him he would have fallen to his knees. The cavern rose in a dome and beneath the centre sat a throne-like chair of granite, its surface covered in Celtic knots. Chains of blue steel, dappled with ice bound a young boy to the seat. Lines of silver wound away from him in all directions threading through the cathedral like hall.
Realisation struck him in an instant, there was no hope of breaking the wards on the place, the boy, evidently Harry from his still messy black hair, was the runestone which held them in place. Even without using the spells in place upon his glasses the magic was almost visible, writhing under his skin.
'Harry!' He called out, involuntarily, hurrying forward, almost oblivious to his surroundings, only his long habit of wariness forcing him to avoid the rivulets of what he know realised must be blood. The boy's head jerked up, green eyes blazing and his mouth began to open.
'At last, what a delight to finally meet you,' a voice cut in and from behind the throne stepped a man. Dumbledore paused, holding the elder wand, ready to defend himself at a moment's notice. He looked at the figure intently, the man was tall, almost his height, a mess of chestnut hair falling about his head in a mane like mess, accentuating his already sharp features. There was no way to guess his age, he might have been as young as twenty or as old as fifty. He wore a coat of marsh-green leather which stretched to his hips, not dissimilar to that often worn by duelists as a protection against curses. Beneath it a loose creamy shirt and black trousers obviously chosen for ease of movement, and walking boots. In other words tough, durable, light-weight clothes and shoes which would provide good footing in an icy hall. Whoever he was he was more prepared than your average wizard.
'Might I enquire as to your name young man? I do not believe we have had the pleasure of being introduced,' remarked Dumbledore politely as he edged closer, trying to see the runes upon the chains. How long left, he wondered as he studied the man, ten minutes perhaps?
'You may call me whatever you so desire, but for the moment Jonathan will do,' replied the man tossing his wand lightly from hand to hand.
'Thank you. Now would you mind handing Harry over to me? I would not wish this to become ugly.'
'Ugly? Are you threatening me?' The man threw back his head and laughed, when he finished he wiped his eyes and began to circle Dumbledore, moving in step with him, 'I have walked this world for over two thousand years. I have seen more that is foul than you could ever imagine, and even so only a few of your kind have ever matched my folk in cruelty. Leave pain and despair to those who walk in eternity. I will not give him back, he is mine.'
'I fear you look for the worst, but you do not speak as if you approve of cruelty. I offer you a chance to even the balance. Release the boy, I will not ask again.'
Jonathan's lip curled, and for a moment it almost seemed that he wore an expression of triumph, 'No.'
'You know,' remarked Bill as he placed the jammer and began to feed energy into it before he stepped through the wards, 'I feel absolutely terrible doing it this way. It feels as if I'm cheating. Whoever did this was brilliant, really and truly brilliant, and I'm just breaking in, or out in the case, as if they were an ancient runes student at Hogwarts, just because they didn't know what the future would bring. It hurts.'
Tonks snorted in amusement, 'I'll remember if I ever have to lock you up to make sure that the wards on your cell are perfect. Not so that you can't escape, but just so that you don't feel bad for doing it.'
Molly fought off a grin, finding humour in a situation where a child was in danger seemed entirely wrong to her, and she turned her back to the entrance, beginning to watch the cave in front of them. It was long and wide, but low, at points almost brushing Shacklebolt's head. Several tunnels, some too small for a child, others large enough for a troll stretched away into the distance. Dumbledore's footprints were easily visible on the sandy floor, leading into the central path. She finally voiced her thoughts, 'Do you think he decided to just post us here to keep up safe?'
'No, I doubt it,' answered Shacklebolt, his deep voice instilling a feeling of calm into the others, 'you saw the meeting, he had already chosen the five of us before it began. This is a rescue mission, it loses any purpose should we fail to escape. We all know that he is probably able to match all of us put together. It makes sense that if we need to defend our escape and keep it powered that we should divide into two groups. On his own he is as capable as all of us.'
'You're probably right, I just hate to feel useless like this,' Molly groused.
'Honestly Mum, I'm glad you're there. Diggle and I are pretty, agh,' Bill grimaced as a particularly thick get of red light was torn out of his was adding to the gentle flow of energy into the jammer, 'much defenseless if we want to keep our way out from imploding. The power that's flowing into these things is eating through them like an acid spell through limestone.'
'Shh!' Interrupted Tonks, 'what was that?' Huge bat like ears grew from her head as they all fell silent listening.
'I can't hear anything,' muttered Diggle quietly, his hat bobbing as he sat beside the runestone.
'No, nor me …' began Bill, but then they all heard it, louder this time. It was a skittering noise as if something with many pairs of legs was moving swiftly over the sandy floor. Then a pattering followed, a strange combination of heavy, yet small feet running over stone and onto sand.
'I think we've got company,' growled Shacklebolt, readying his wand.
They came in a wave a shrieking, stone joints protesting at the movements, throwing grit into the air. They had no common form, each individual and different. Some were as small as houselves, but squat and brutish without faces beyond teeth. Others were spider like, on spindly, serrated limbs. At first they simply came through the tunnels, but then more of them appeared, some even emerging from the ceiling leaving gouges in the rock where their form had taken shape before they dropped to the sand below. Their limbs glistened wetly and black eyes of jet shone in the wand-light.
Kingsley dropped two as soon as they appeared, blasting curses smashing the rock into pieces. Molly, no longer as well practiced in combat as in her youth only unleashed a handful of blasting curses before dropping back into a spell-chain more based upon entrapment than destruction. Ropes flew from her wand, ensnaring a tall, gangly one with impossibly long arms. A piercing curse drilled a hole through another's head, but it failed to slow it down. It seemed that only total destruction actually stopped them.
Tonks' wand flew through a blazing pattern of spells, as she levitated one of the squat figures and sent it hurling into its companions the impact smashing off one of the creature's legs and cracking open the head of another like and egg. A flaming whip slashed across them, failing to do more than leave a glowing red line over the chests of a couple who continued forward unperturbed.
'What the hell are these things?' Roared Tonks as Kingsley hit the entrance to one of the tunnels with a massive reducto sending the roof toppling in on an advancing series of the creatures and crushing one beneath the rockfall.
'Like golems,' grunted Bill, as keeping his wand powering the stone he kicked a small statue away from him, its claws leaving deep cuts down his dragon-hide boots, and blood oozed from the leather.
'Defedio, damn it they're getting resistant,' Kingsley's gouging curse made barely more than a scratch as connected with yet another, though it served to knock it back a couple of paces. Molly was casting non-verbally, devastating precise strikes still thinning the numbers of the creatures, but there were too many. The wizards were nearly back to back now, only their combined efforts and the relatively narrow approach to their position preventing them from being overwhelmed. New creatures were emerging, large than their predecessors, with veins of shining silver running through them.
The ground shifted suddenly the sand bulging as something moved beneath it. Tonks lashed out wildly a superheated spear of steel erupting from her wand, barely missing whatever it was. Then the sand opened and a snake like stone sprang upwards, sinking its jaws around Diggle's throat and tossing his small body to the side where it thumped heavily against the wall and collapsed twitching, only to be descended upon seconds later by a great number of the creatures. Bill reached up, snatching Diggle's wand from the air as it was torn loose from his grip and while still holding his own wand steady, splitting the beam of light in two into both jammers, he aimed Diggle's wand into the snake's maw as it turned on him.
'Excidio,' the wand shone a bright gold and exploded, splinters blasting through his hand, the spell ripped into the snake. For a second it seemed unchanged and then it simply crumbled into dust. 'Heh,' he said weakly, barely audible over the shrieking of the creatures as their tore Diggle's body apart, 'I always wanted to do that.'
Tonks caught him as he almost fell, leaving Shacklebolt and Molly to hold the statues back, 'Oh no you don't,' she growled, holding his arm steady, 'you've got to keep this open. We have to buy as much time as possible …'
In all honesty Jonathan could not remember fighting someone who could cast a spell faster than Albus Dumbledore, the old man was lightening itself in battle. The instant the word 'no' had left his mouth he'd found himself facing a roaring bolt of lightening, and dodging that had left him on the defensive from the beginning and he found himself hard pressed. He had expected it to be relatively easy to put on a good show and still let Dumbledore rescue the boy, as it was he was having difficulty holding his own. It did not help that while Dumbledore believed that he should be cautious around the runic design covering the floor Jonathan knew exactly how careful he had to be. It was bound to get worse when Dumbledore discovered the blood posed less than no threat to him. There was something naggingly familiar about the wand his opponent was using too, the magic was being cast with a surprisingly aggressive slant, not something he would have expected from what he had heard of Dumbledore, even in the duel against Grindelwald he had supposedly cast in a largely defensive style. Cutting out his musings he unleashed a quick gut-spiller and shielded his face from the shrapnel from a nearby blasting curse with his coat-sleeve.
Dumbledore sidestepped neatly, avoiding the yellowish curse by mere inches, already returning fire with a wide arch mind-ripper. He knew it was not going to hit, he would have been more uneasy about using a curse that could turn its victims into a gibbering wreck if had thought it would. Still it opened up his opponent nicely for a blast of the tartarian cage. The spell rebounded off a hastily conjured shield and smashed into one of the walls of the cavern. Ducking under a shimmering blast of rainbow coloured light he let off a series of colour changing jinxes as a distraction and followed up with a neat transfiguration so that the floor rose up around Jonathan, pitting them into a battle of wills as to who could control the spell. He did not intend to win, it would be too time consuming, the key was losing just slowly enough that he could reach Harry. For a second he almost stumbled as resistance momentarily faded and the earth surged up around Jonathan.
'You've got my wand!' The indignant shout almost broke Dumbledore's concentration, evening the pressure after his opponent's momentary slip, 'that was a gift from a dear friend. How dare you use it against me?'
'If I return it, or the stone to you will you let the boy go?' Half a dozen steps left.
Jonathan gritted his teeth, the effort of pushing back the stone was beginning to wear on him, the offer was tempting.
Five steps. Dumbledore's right arm began to shake at as he held the flow of magic steady, the air between them was pulsing with power, shining like the Aurora Borealis. Four steps.
'What guarantee do I have that you will give them to me if I let you have the boy?'
'Only my word,' Jonathan would have laughed, had Dumbledore not chosen that moment to apply more pressure and the dry chuckle turned into a groan as a vein throbbed on his forehead.
Three steps. Dumbledore could almost touch the chains, the runes seemed to have no external bindings. Like the entire hill they seemed concerned only with keeping that within them prisoner. The smell from Harry was almost intolerable, the overpowering stench of dried urine and faeces surrounded him, evidently cleaning charms had been deemed unnecessary. His skin was paler than normal even and it appeared almost translucent, his normally thin frame was hardly more than skin and bones. Two steps.
'If you do not take my offer then I suggest that you accept the reality of the situation,' Dumbledore announced coldly, 'what you have done here is inhuman.'
'And what do you expect from one of the First Children?'
'More than this,' Albus Dumbledore turned his gaze upon Jonathan, and it took all his courage for the fay lord not to quail. One step. Dumbledore reached out one, old, elegant, hand and heard the magic within the chains. He was probably one of a dozen magicians in the world who could use the skill with anything beyond a very basic level of control. Ignoring the buzz of his own magic he split his mind in two, one part holding the spell against the Pale Man while the other listened to the song of the magic. The magic was surprisingly simple, the majority of the runes bound the prisoner to the rest of the hill, the actual binding spell relied upon blood, and could be broken with blood, the blood of the children of Merlin or Nimue, the magic sang.
Dumbledore was half in a daze, the song of the magic enveloped him, surrounded him. The magic of the hall rose up around him even as his spell upon Jonathan fell apart. The blue dome of light deflected Jonathan's attacks with ease as if they hardly existed. The magic of Merlin had arisen to defend his heir. Dumbledore scratched his hand absent-mindedly against the rough-hewn edge of the throne. His skin broke easily and a drop of blood fell onto the chains.
A cataclysmic roar of sound slammed through the hill like a thunderclap. The statues trembled and cracked, splintering apart as dust fell from the roof. Tonks collapsed onto Bill, knocking the beam aside, the rock the jammers were made from began to burn, warping and twisting as cold blue flickered over them.
'Out, out now!' Bill's scream was hardly audible to the deafened ears of the others, but the message was clear as he practically threw Tonks out through the exit. A loud splash and undignified swearing passed unnoticed as Bill pulled himself up and limped through. Kingsley took one last look at the battlefield, covered in lumps of granite, and in one area smeared red with Diggle's remains, before he too ducked through the gap.
Molly hesitated desperately hoping that Dumbledore would reappear with Harry. Yet more of the golem like creations squeezed their way up from inside the earth. With a heart-rending sob Molly squeezed through the crack and back into the sunlight. Moments later the jammers fizzled out, trapping the statues inside, along with Dumbledore and presumably Harry.
Tonks was attempting to apply healing charms to Bill, his hand was still filled with holes from the explosion of Diggle's wand and the water flowing around them was rapidly turning red with blood. Molly took over swiftly, Tonks' healing spells, like her housekeeping charms were sub-par to say the least.
'Tonks dear, mirror Doge, he needs to know what's going on. We need to let Alastor know, if there is any chance that Dumbledore's still alive he'll be the one who can do something about it.'
It was among the hardest moments in Molly Weasley's life as she fought to stop the blood flowing from Bill's hand, for a wound caused by wand wood is enchanted and the flesh was badly torn. It reminded her all too forcefully of when they had brought back the bodies of her brothers, Fabian and Gideon Prewitt. Bill's cold, unconscious face was to fill her nightmares for weeks to come.
Over head the trees rattled bare branches and the crows took flight, cawing loudly as it began to rain.
As the blood touched the chains they splintered apart. The great stone throne groaned and with a sound like the snapping of a giant's arm broke in two. Visible magic swirled through the air, exploding outwards in a thunderclap of power. Dumbledore was knocked to the ground by the concussive blast, though Harry, untouched stood, albeit shakily amid the wreckage of his prison. Magic leapt from Harry's palm, golden fire spraying outwards, catching the Pale Man a glancing blow, slamming him aside as Harry expelled the power he had held in check. The torrent of power died quickly, no human body was adapted to deal with such a flow of magic for any length of time, still less that of a half-starved boy. He collapsed, his arms blackened and burnt to the elbow, but for the moment the Pale Man was no where to be seen. Dumbledore picked himself up, groggily, though once he saw Harry's crumpled body he hurried to his side and carefully lifted him up. The boy was light enough to carry with ease, even without a featherlight charm. Performing a few quick healing spells to stabilize Harry as best he could Dumbledore set off back towards the entrance.
He moved in great strides, but a sinking feeling of dread was already filling his stomach. Occasionally tremors shook the tunnel and loose rocks and debris fell to the ground but he did not stop. At last he reached the entrance. The others were gone, in one corner the sandy floor was covered in lumps of flesh, and a torn top hat told the tale of at least one who had fallen. Dumbledore bowed his head in resignation at yet another failure, and with a sweep of his wand to clear the floor carefully placed Harry down upon the sand. From Far away inside the hill came a whooping cry, and then another, and another. Something had awoken. There was little time left and even less if the pallor of Harry's cheeks was anything to go by. There must be some way to escape this place. It came to him like a lightening bolt from the blue, and he berated himself for his stupidity. The entire place was built with blood wards, blood wards charged with the blood of the boy he carried, blood wards which had sprung open when his own blood and been placed upon the chains. Together they were the key and the lock to this place. If anyone could escape then it would be the two of them combined. Picking Harry up once more he turned on the spot, disappearing with a mild crack.
Deep inside the hill the Pale Man, still picking himself up from the boy's blow smiled as he felt the old wizard tear the wards apart like paper. Checkmate.
A/N: Right now I am in the middle of my finals, so this may not be the best chapter I've ever written, partially because it was largely written because I've been thinking about it for too long. Not that many of the ideas I had actually came out as they were intended. I hope it didn't jump about too much between scenes.
I hope you enjoy it as a nice bit of action packed stuff. The next chapter evens out the life/battle ratio.
The runes are simply invented. Writing is often a magical and elite system, if I actually had words of power I would not let them be commonly known to all and sundry, so I felt that probably muggle and wizard runes differ.
Jonathan's happy anyway.
As always reviews are appreciated.
Thank you to Change of Faith for the review, if anyone wants to know the answer then they need merely message me and I will give them an answer. In the long run the truth will out anyway.
Thank you as well to Wulffe, Bgbg, Man of Constant Sorrow and Siknmagh (who has provided some very helpful constructive criticism) and the others who have reviewed the work.
If you have any questions then please ask me and I will either provide a public answer or a private one depending on how sensitive the information is. Of course if it is too sensitive then I won't give it away, but there isn't any harm in asking.